POSTSCRIPT / March 17, 2019 / Sunday


Opinion Columnist

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Whom to believe: Duterte or Panelo?

WHOSE word should be believed – that of President Duterte or his official interpreter Salvador Panelo, sometimes called presidential spokesman?

The question cropped up again after the President threatened Wednesday to shoot Liberal Party senatorial candidate Mar Roxas in a campaign speech in Cagayan. In the course of belittling the Otso Diretso opposition bets, Duterte said:

“Just because you are a namesake of a Roxas eh mahusay ka. Itong tao ‘to walang loyalty. Panahon ni Arroyo, nandiyan siya, panahon ni Aquino, nandun siya. Wala ito. Pretends to be somebody. Tao na walang prinsipyo… You are nothing to me. I can even shoot you for free.”

Asked about that threat, presidential spokesman Panelo gave reporters the usual line that Duterte was just joking: “Hindi naman threat ‘yun e. It’s…papatawa, pakuwela lang. Unang-una, hindi naman niya gagawin. Pangalawa hindi naman free ang pagbaril ng tao ngayon e, may bayad. So walang logic, pakuwela lang.”

He elaborated: “Kasama sa kampanya ‘yun. Freedom of expression ‘yun e. ‘Yung mga kabila ‘di ba bumabanat din?” he said, referring to the opposition Otso Diretso team.

Too many times, when Duterte is caught publicly saying something gross, indelicate or self-incriminating the usual explanation of Panelo is that the President was just joking. It seems an easier route for him to take than to answer the issues raised.

Questions: When is a public statement of the President to be taken seriously or dismissed as just another sick joke? Guidelines will help. How long should the public wait for Panelo’s interpretation before taking Duterte’s statement at face value?

As a rule, which should be believed as official: the original presidential statement or its interpretation by a spokesman?

One wonders if a journalist or blogger could use the same excuse – that he was just joking — when sued for libel for a published statement that a complainant has deemed malicious and defamatory? Or is that line of defense available only to Duterte, maybe as an executive privilege?

Whatever, it does not look or sound proper that the President of the Republic talks in public the way he does. The problem, a national embarrassment actually, is more than a difficulty with language, grammar or phonetics. Its roots go deeper.

 Luzon’s top media workers recognized

THIS YEAR’S annual “Paragala” Central Luzon Media Awards were given yesterday to outstanding media personalities, programs and networks in a ceremony at the Holy Angel University in Angeles City.

In addition to its regular categories, the awards this year – with “Timeless” as theme – also acknowledged creative works in digital media and advertising. Over-all in charge of “Paragala” is Leslie Manalo Medina, program chairperson of HAU BA Communications.

“Paragala” is organized by HAU communication students in partnership with 29 colleges and universities in Central Luzon whose members form the Communicators’ League that cast the 30,000 votes to select the awardees. They coined the word “Paragala” (“para galal” which is Capampangan for “for recognition.”)

Awardees are — The Best: Morning show, Unang Hirit; Male morning show host, Ivan Mayrina; Female morning show hostess, Amy Perez; Magazine show, Kapuso Mo, Jessica Soho; Documentary, Reel Time: Salat; News program, 24 Oras; Male field reporter, Raffy Tima; Female field reporter, Doris Bigornia; Male news anchor, Ted Failon; Female news anchor, Vicky Morales; Male recording artist, Daryl Ong; Female recording artist, Moira dela Torre.

Archbishop Pedro Santos Award (Religious Programs), Men of Light; The Best: Online influencer, Bianca Gonzales-Intal; Digital content for News,; Digital content for Lifestyle, GMA One Exclusives; Advertising creative for Digital Content, Pampanga’s Best Sarap Series; Advertising creative for Values, Kwentong Jollibee: Amor; Television actor, Coco Martin; Television actress, Yassi Pressman; Teleserye, FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano; Musical variety show, ASAP Natin To; Noontime show, It’s Showtime.

Hall of Fame awardee-1, Coco Martin; Hall of Fame awardee-2, FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano; Hall of Fame awardee-3, Kapuso Mo, Jessica Soho; Hall of Fame awardee-4, GV FM 99.1.

Journalist of the Year (Pampanga), Federico D. Pascual Jr.; Best local Radio Station, GV FM99.1; Best local TV Station, CLTV 36; Best national TV Station, ABS-CBN.

My daughter, Dr. Leonila P. Bautista of Phivolcs, received the award for me. The recognition is personally significant, because my journalism began in 1956 in HAU (then Holy Angel Academy) when I became at age 16 the editor-in-chief of its campus paper The Angelite.

It is the highest honor for a newspaperman to have his work recognized by his own community, his own barangay, in my case through the “Paragala” from Holy Angel, my alma mater, and the Communicators’ League.

A publication, or any media platform for that matter, is nothing without meaningful interaction with its target public. We in media are nothing without our audience – our readers, viewers, listeners, followers. That is why we are forever people-oriented. We are always challenged, maybe driven, by the seeming mystery, as they say, of a prophet seldom being welcome in his own village.

Still, we in media persist. We keep going back to our roots, to our community, to serve it in whatever way we can. Happily, we do sometimes connect to our target public.

That usually happens when we bring in public service, the utilitarian aspect of mass media. Journalism is not just gathering and disseminating information. Service, which is the heart of journalism, gives human meaning to everything we do. It is service propelled by the search for the truth to share with the community.

One other aspect of journalism is context – in our case in view of the May 13 elections. As we are often reminded, we get the kind of government we deserve. It is our duty as communicators to help our community elect only the best officials, the best leaders, that money cannot buy.

(First published in the Philippine STAR of March 17, 2019)

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